Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Growing Love

I used to think that every possible sphere of human endeavor has already been the subject of a reality TV series. Initially like most people, I thought once you had put one set of dysfunctional people in a room for a couple of weeks and made a TV show that would be the end of it – little did I know. Reality TV has directed a pitiless eye on everything from models to cooking, boxing to business, fashion design to losing weight.

The other day I heard how former editor of Psychology Today, Robert Epstein, has come up with a twist of his own. Instead of the fierce emotions of competition (anger, fear, disgust) driving his show, Epstein wants to put the emotion of Love at the heart. He starts with psychology and a simple idea. While Love can sometimes be a 'coup de foudre', a thunderbolt, it often grows over time and with experience. He’s right of course. That’s why with Lovemarks we made the important distinction between a fad, which hits fast and fades fast (usually), and a Lovemark, which is built over time with both Respect and Love.

Epstein’s perspective on Love has a fascinating cultural dimension. It starts with the truth that many relationships in the world begin as arrangements between families. Based first on Respect, Love is expected to grow over time. Most often it does. He put this thinking into what he called a Love Contract – and who can resist that paradoxical combo of ‘Love’ and ‘Contract’? Two people make a formal commitment and agree to work at love. They’re helped along to develop intimacy and caring and to bond through both testing and romantic experiences. Epstein put his heart where his money was and I believe signed a Love Contract with his partner Gabrielle.

Now Epstein hopes to extend the Love Contract concept into a TV show, Making Love. He’s even trademarked the name. The idea is to put together ten couples of strangers who have been screened as mutually compatible and watch them grow the love. Or not. Having based Lovemarks so closely on human relationships I’m always up for anything that makes connections through Love. If he gets this show off the ground it’ll be appointment viewing.